We have examined behavioral consequences of genetic deletion of the adenosine A3 receptors in mice. The open field behavior of A3 adenosine receptor knock-out (A3R KO) mice was investigated both under basal conditions and after stimulation with psychostimulants. Adolescent (21 day-old) and adult A3R KO males showed an increase in overall motor activity compared to wild type (WT) males, but the type of activity differed. The motor activity, especially rearing, was also higher in A3R KO compared to WT adult females. A3 receptors have a low affinity for caffeine and it was therefore surprising to find a decreased response to stimulation with either caffeine or amphetamine in A3R KO as compared to WT mice in males as well as females. Telemetry recordings also showed a significantly smaller increase in activity upon darkness in A3R KO. There were no compensatory changes in the mRNA expression of any other adenosine receptor subtypes (A1, A2A and A2B) or any changes in dopamine D1 and D2 receptor binding in A3R KO brains. Challenge with the developmental toxicant methylmercury (1 microM in drinking water) during pregnancy and lactation did not cause any behavioral alterations in adolescent and adult WT female offspring. In contrast, the A3R KO female offspring displayed changes in locomotion indicating an interaction between perinatal methylmercury and adenosine A3 receptors. In conclusion, despite low expression of A3 receptors in wild type mouse brain we observed several behavioral consequences of genetic elimination of the adenosine A3 receptors. The possibility that this is due to a role of A3 receptors in development is discussed.